Batangas farmers to hold protest march to Manila over land opened for mining
04/21/2008 | 07:46 PM
MANILA, Philippines – At least 60 farmers from Batangas will march from Calatagan to Manila Tuesday as a protest to a government decision reclassifying an agricultural area into a mining area.
According to Virginia Malaluan, one of the affected farmers, the march aims to press the government into reconsidering its decision, which she said paved way for a private company to excavate limestone in the 507.8-hectare landholding in the province.
“With the looming food crisis because of the shortage, converting an agricultural land for mining is the height of shamelessness and indecency,” she said.
The farmers earlier registered their vehement opposition to the land conversion, which would result to their eviction in the property located in the villages of Baha and Talibayog.
Malaluan said the government’s decision is “a violation of human rights.”
According to the Task Force Baha-Talibayog, the farmer-beneficiaries have already received Emancipation Patents under Presidential Decree 27, when the property’s former owner, Ceferino Ascue, “illegally sold” the land to the Asturias Industries Inc. in 1995.
In 1997, Asturias Industries Inc. entered into a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) with the government and obtained an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to conduct mining activities in the area on the basis of a 1965 Bureau of Mines findings that the area is “mineralized.”
As this developed, a member of the Catholic clergy warned that the impending expiration of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) in two months time would “lapse into uncertainty, taking with it the unfulfilled hopes of the rural poor.”
Rev. Lucilo Quiambao, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Legazpi, made the statement during the final leg of a series of public hearings conducted by the Senate Committee on Agrarian Reform held in in Legaspi City, Albay.
“There is still more than a million hectares of undistributed lands, which could spell a radical life-changing difference to many small farming families, the reason why we add our collective voice as Shepherds tending the flock entrusted to us by Christ,” the Bishop stressed, as he appealed to Congress and the Office of the President to extend the law.
“The issue is not only of great moral importance but urgent as well. Time is running out for CARL,” he added. – GMANews.TV